My book review is on Deepak Malhotra’s book, I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze. Many readers may remember Spencer Johnson’s classic, Who Moved My Cheese, which Malhotra refers to as the good book in his story. All the mice in the story know the good book, which teaches that change happens, we may not be able to do much about the change and must accept it, but we can control our reaction.
Malhotra’s book is a short tale about mice, living in a maze, and especially three special mice: Big, Zed, and Max. For most of the mice, the only thing that mattered was finding the cheese, which frequently moved. Max began to question why everything was the way it was, and ultimately decided to find a way to escape the maze.
Zed was less interested in cheese, except as fuel for his little mouse body. He was one of the leaders in the mouse world, with his wise nature and magnetic personality. After Max leaves the maze, with some help from appropriately named Big – he returns and has a conversation with Zed. When Max finished telling his story, they part company. They agree to meet the next morning, and in his departure, Zed simply leaves by walking through a wall, which makes for an interesting dialogue the next day. Ultimately, Big also leaves the maze.
Some thoughts that were inspired from my reading include:
- For many of us, finding happiness is the key. For some, it will be the cheese – a metaphor for whatever you find that makes you happy – whether it’s money, power, control, or time for yourself. For others, happiness is a state of mind that is characterized by contentment and calm. People in the latter category don’t need much praise, power, or prestige. How can organizations create cultures that grow people with this kind of peace, contentment and calm?
- When people are driven by money, power, control, or some other cheese, they will never be satisfied. They will always want more. Managers profit from knowing what is driving their direct reports.
- For those who want to leave the maze that others control, it begins with thinking about how you can do that. The mind controls our actions. “What allows us to go from problem to analysis to solution is the insistence of the mind.” (p. 64)
- Project teams and executives, indeed many of us, should always question assumptions and the status quo. Why can’t we make the world, or our company, or our families better places? Why can’t we break out of the rut we are in, build a great company, or invent a product that will boost earnings for our company?
- The question for many will be when to accept change, as stated, and when to question change – and the assumptions that were made in deciding what to change. It’s simply too exhausting to question everything.